Ovarian tissue freezing may be the future of fertility preservation
Embryo and egg freezing Phoenix, Tucson, and surrounding area
Certain medical treatments may permanently affect the patient’s fertility. For example, many types of cancer chemotherapy are toxic to the ovaries. When a girl or a woman is preparing to undergo these treatments, she (or her parents) may be thinking about how to preserve fertility for the future.
A growing number of healthy women would like to delay childbearing for educational, career, or other personal reasons. Many of these women would also like to preserve their fertility, so that they have the option of becoming mothers later in life when they’re ready.
Egg or embryo freezing
The traditional way to preserve fertility has been to freeze oocytes (eggs) or embryos. The woman is given medications that increase the number of eggs that mature during a menstrual cycle. When they’re ready, the eggs are retrieved during a minor procedure. One option is to freeze the eggs unfertilized. Another option is for the eggs to be fertilized with a male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm to create embryos, which are then frozen. When the woman is ready to have kids, IVF will be used to fertilize the thawed eggs (if they’re not yet fertilized) and transfer the embryos into her uterus.
Although these techniques have allowed many women to become mothers who would otherwise not have been able to do so, they don’t work for everyone. Girls who haven’t yet gone through puberty are unable to utilize these techniques, because their bodies aren’t yet ready to produce any mature eggs. In addition, it takes a few weeks to complete a cycle of egg retrieval. In some cases, a cancer diagnosis may require treatment to begin immediately. There may not be time to go through an egg retrieval cycle. For these reasons, scientists have been searching for a method that could be used quickly to preserve a girl’s or woman’s fertility for the future.
Ovarian tissue freezing
The latest technology in this field involves ovarian tissue freezing. In this procedure, a piece of the outer covering of an ovary (or in some cases, the entire ovary) is removed from the body. It is sliced into thin strips, and then frozen. Because the outer portion of the ovary contains the immature eggs, they are preserved in the ovarian tissue. After the other medical treatment is complete, then the pieces of ovary are transplanted back into the body. If the technique is successful, then the ovarian tissue will return to normal function within the body.
Advantages and disadvantages of ovarian tissue freezing
Ovarian tissue freezing has several advantages over more traditional methods of fertility preservation. One is that there is no hormonal preparation necessary, which allows it to be performed quickly when time is of the essence. Also, the technique can be useful even for girls who haven’t gone through puberty.
In addition, ovarian tissue freezing may allow women to regain normal hormonal functions after their treatment. Patients who have ovary-toxic treatments often go into an early menopause, because the ovary is responsible for secreting the female sex hormones (estrogens and progesterone). However, after the ovarian tissue is retransplanted into the woman’s body, it usually resumes performing its normal hormonal functions. Most patients return to normal menstrual cycling after the procedure.
Although it has several advantages, ovarian tissue freezing isn’t right for everyone. It requires two surgeries, which are performed laparoscopically (through very tiny holes, using instruments and cameras on long flexible poles) but still carry some risks (such as infection). Those who have had previous pelvic surgeries may have scar tissue that can interfere with the procedure. In addition, if there is a possibility that a few cancer cells have spread to the ovary, then retransplanting the tissue could theoretically lead to a return of the cancer. Patients need to discuss this issue with their oncologists, as different types of cancer usually spread in different ways.
Can you have ovarian tissue freezing?
Healthy adult women who want to preserve their fertility so that they can delay childbearing usually turn to egg freezing. However, given the advantages of ovarian tissue freezing, many would prefer this method. It doesn’t require a course of fertility medications, making the process quicker and also less uncomfortable.
Because it’s a newer technique, ovarian tissue freezing is still considered experimental. This means that it’s currently only available to those who are undergoing cancer treatments or other medical treatments that are toxic to the ovaries. However, many experts believe that ovarian tissue freezing will be more widely offered in the future.
Learn more about ovarian tissue freezing, embryo freezing, and egg freezing Phoenix, Tucson, and surrounding area
If you’re interested in fertility preservation, then you should talk with an expert in this field to determine what your best option would be and how you can proceed. Depending on your situation, you may be a candidate for freezing your eggs, embryos, or ovarian tissue. When you visit Reproductive Health Center in Tucson, you’ll meet Dr. Scot Hutchison, who is an award-winning expert in the field of fertility medicine. You can spend as much time with Dr. Hutchison and the rest of our team as you need to get all of your questions answered. There’s no obligation to proceed with the treatment after your consultation appointment. Our goal is to help you understand your options fully, so that you can make the best decision for you.